U expands partnerships in Pakistan

Sending students on learning abroad experiences, hosting international students and fostering trans-national research partnerships are among the most familiar ways that the U plays an active part on the global stage. What many may not realize is that some of our faculty also play a key role in the development of academic institutions themselves. Indeed, U faculty expertise in the nuts and bolts of academia—from curriculum development and tenure and promotion to research practices and grant proposals—helps to bolster education systems far beyond Utah.

Delegates from Swat University of Engineering and Technology (Swat UET) in Pakistan sign a new MOU with the University of Utah.

Recently, the University of Utah Office for Global Engagement signed a new memorandum of understanding to help guide the development of nine new degree programs at Swat University of Engineering and Technology (Swat UET) in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Within three years, this new partnership aims to graduate 15 scholars in a new Swat UET doctoral program.

“Our involvement in Pakistan is not new, it’s expanding,” said Aslam Chaudhry, professor of economics. “The partnership is an extension of work in the region that began six years ago with the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCASW).”

In 2014, the U was awarded a $10 million grant, part of a $127 million USAID program, that was instrumental in the development of the USPCASW at Mehran University for Engineering and Technology in Sindh, Pakistan. The success of USPCASW, including the U faculty’s approach to capacity building, has made the U a sought-after partner by the Higher Education Institutions of Pakistan.

Through the new agreement the U will also provide technical support in the organization of curriculum, development of applied research centers, stakeholder events and outreach, capacity building workshops, online seminars and diploma courses at the Swat UET campus. A U team will advise on governance and monitoring protocols to ensure lasting success.

“We are grateful for the trust and confidence Pakistani higher education administrators, faculty and students had shown in our approach to satisfy their capacity development needs,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president, Academic Affairs. “We, at the University of Utah, have been very pleased to be part of Swat UET’s journey to professional growth and academic excellence.”

U faculty will also help strengthen Swat UET’s new “International Linkages Office,” which aims to connect other universities of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to U.S. universities and international partners. Doing so will create study and research opportunities for Pakistani students and faculty and will increase prospects for the region’s institutions to compete on the global research stage.

To advance the implementation of these targets, several U faculty members will visit Pakistan twice a year once public health guidance permits.

“Each year that we worked on USPCASW, mutual trust was expanded into long-lasting and sustainable partnerships,” said Steve Burian, professor, Civil Engineering at the U and project lead. “These institutions know that we have a team that is invested and willing to travel–to really be ‘on the ground’ in order to create lasting collaborations.”

This reputation has paved the way for institutional partnerships with Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission, the National University of Technology in Islamabad, Habib University in Karachi. In fact, the Higher Education Commission in Pakistan is currently chaired by former U Economics Professor Tariq Banuri. Faculty research partnerships have also been established with public services and private industries in the Sindh, Punjab, Gilgit and Balochistan regions. The new agreement with Swat UET will further these efforts.